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The Hell

Jean-Christian Biville

Biville Cycling Paris-Roubaix vélo

Un mot sur l'oeuvre

15th April 2001, 99th Paris-Roubaix cycle race.
Wilfried Peeters comes out of the Arenberg Trench in the lead.
The Belgian was caught up a bit further on, soon after the Carrefour de l’Arbre. He finished in 5th place. His team mate, Servais Knaven, won ahead of Johan Museeuw and Roman Vainsteins, both of whom were also part of the Domo team who managed to have four cyclists among the first five in the race.
This 99th race was notable for its hellish weather conditions. Rain once again added to the myth.
This image was awarded the LCL-USJF prize in 2001 for the best sports photo.

Le témoignage de Jean-Christian Biville

I came and stood here, just at the end of the Trench, at every Paris-Roubaix, knowing that something usually happens here and that those who come out it in the lead are usually near the head of the race at the finish line. That day I was really lucky. Two cyclists were in the lead going into the cobbled furrow, Wilfried Peeters and the Frenchman Philippe Gaumont. The latter fell heavily in the middle of the trench and even fractured his leg, and this accident delayed the team directors’ cars. This gives the photo its surreal feel, he is alone in the world and has just come out of hell. The image isn’t polluted by all the followers and remains really pure.

Le choix de Jean-Denis

I was really struck by this photo when it was published as a double-page spread in « Vélo magazine ». I was fascinated by this strange being. His glasses, which had stayed clean, only added to the strange feel of the whole shot. The entire spectacular race summed up in one shot. The energy, courage, determination, the self-sacrifice obviously, but also the backdrop, and the usual weather conditions of the place.
An image to show the non-believer what the Paris-Roubaix race is. That’s all there is to say.